by Howard Nemerov 

Now as the year turns toward its darkness

the car is packed, and time come to start

driving west. We have lived here

for many years and been more or less content;

now we are going away. That is how

things happen, and how into new places,

among other people, we shall carry

our lives with their peculiar memories

both happy and unhappy but either way

touched with a strange tonality

of what is gone but inalienable, the clear

and level light of a late afternoon

out on the terrace, looking to the mountains,

drinking with friends. Voices and laughter

lifted in still air, in a light

that seemed to paralyze time.

We have had kindness here, and some

unkindness; now we are going on.

Though we are young enough still

And militant enough to be resolved,

Keeping our faces to the front, there is

A moment, after saying all farewells,

when we taste the dry and bitter dust

of everything that we have said and done

for many years, and our mouths are dumb,

and the easy tears will not do. Soon

the north wind will shake the leaves,

the leaves will fall. It may be

never again that we shall see them,

the strangers who stand on the steps,

smiling and waving, before the screen doors

of their suddenly forbidden houses.

“Going Away” by Howard Nemerov from New Poems. © University of Chicago Press, 1992.

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